Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson’s magnificently illustrated children’s picture book, which relates Nelson Mandela’s life story, explores themes of justice, human dignity, and racism. Named Rolihlahla at birth, Mandela grew up in Qunu, one of 13 children. As his family’s smartest child, he was the only one sent to school. His teacher refused to acknowledge his Xhosa name, calling him Nelson instead.

When Mandela became a lawyer, his goal was to protect poor and vulnerable people. But South Africa’s unjust apartheid policy led to his imprisonment for 27 years. Upon his release, he urged his fellow citizens to continue to fight for justice.

Christian parents might want to discuss with their children the role of “the ancestors” in the narrative and contrast it to biblical views of life after death and God’s control of human affairs. (Katherine Tegen Books)

About the Author

Sonya VanderVeen Feddema is a freelance writer and a member of Covenant CRC in St. Catharines, Ontario.

See comments (5)


It seems curious that my comment(s) regarding Mandela disappeared.

Must the truth about Mandela be censored?

Joy: I'm interested in your comment.  If you have it (saved it elsewhere), would you email it to me at:

I think Joys comments should be reinstated. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this man. Doesn't hurt to get some of this stuff out in the open. What happened to the kitchen table so often promoted in the banner?

Faith Alive Resources recently emailed out a survey about the Banner.  There, I voiced my concern that they were censoring the posts, but I doubt anything will come of it.

FWIW, the Banner censors much less than what The Network does, which is ironic since the nature of The Network is that it is much more "in house" in nature than the Banner.  I've posted a number of comments that would have been censored on The Network that were not on the Banner.  At present, I'm banned from posting anything on The Network (my account disabled) so it can't censor any more of my posts there. :-)

As to Mandella, I think the man deserves much credit for the "healing perspective" he brought to the South African government once in power (although de Klerk probably deserved just as much credit, along with many other "whites").  On the other hand, Mandella has been inaccurately transformed into a saint by history.  He was not so much of a reconciler in his early days and quite arguably, his imprisonment was not at all inappropriate.  If I recall correctly, he was given opportunity to leave prison by agreeing to renounce violent resistance, but he refused that offer.  One might look at that as noble in a way, but one might also look at it very much otherwise.  The interesting thing about some folks who to tend to almost deify Mandella is that they also tend to denounce violence as a general principal -- but somehow Mandella gets a pass.

There was a 60 minutes segment done a few decades ago (pre-Mandella presidency) that very much praised the South African white government's efforts to integrate (move away from apartheid).  The segment pointed out just how difficult that process was, how much progress had been made despite the extreme difficulty, and indeed how difficult the history of South Africa had been, given that a first world culture and a very third world culture existed in the same geographical space.

Although this comment might invoke screams of protest, the idea of apartheid, as originally conceived, was not the oppresive idea/concept that it's come to be rather universally known as, but rather a fairly gracious effort made by a first world culture that was trying to figure out how a first world culture could coexist with a third world culture.  Third world cultures have been treated much worse in human history.  The difficulties arose when the third world culture peoples "progressed" but the political system (including the element of apartheid) didn't change or adapt to change but rather was used by some -- or even my many -- to oppress that population for the benefit of the other population.

It is tempting to ignore the complexities of South African history and those who deify Mandella really do that.  But doing that is more of a celebration than a serious analysis.